Assalamualaikum & hi! Kim and I went to Ho Chi Minh last month for Kim's birthday celebration and he really wants to go there. Here I am, sharing with you what happened throughout the trip.
Day 1 (31st Jan 2018)
We flew directly from Senai International Airport (JHB), Johor to Tan So Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh (SGN) around 7 in the morning. It took 2 hours but we arrived at HCM around 8am because of 1-hour time difference (1 hour late than Malaysia).
|Arrival at Tan So Nhat International Airport|
After we retrieved our luggage, we went out to get the data simcard for our stay. Then, took a bus straight to our hotel, CCentral Hotel Bui Vien. Since the check-in time is at 12pm, we decided to grab a meal before exploring the neighbourhood. The hotel is centrally located and near to many main attractions in HCM like the Ben Thanh Market, Bui Vien Walking Street, Saigon Central Post Office, Saigon Square and Notre Dame. It’s fairly clean but there’s this humid & unwanted smell whenever we entered the room. Also, during the nights (especially in the weekend) it’s loud – and imagine staying at 2nd floor duh. Even so, I heard most hotels in HCM can’t really escape this unless you go to a 4-5 star hotel.
|Price for sim data - surprisingly fast internet compared to our trip in Hanoi last time.|
|Kim said Vinaphone has the largest and fastest coverage.|
|The bus we took.|
|You can find this shuttle bus stop across the arriving hall.|
So, first thing first, LET’S EAT! While heading to Malay Street, we found this sweet aunty selling some kinda banana fritters by the road so we decided to give it a try.
While looking all selekeh (we thought we’ll look poor with our comfortable wears and got to bargain more rotf), we decided to go to the Ben Thanh market to find Ao Dai (the Vietnamese traditional clothes) because one of my bucketlist is to wear Ao Dai while taking pictures around the city. You can get a readymade or tailor-made at Ben Thanh market. Little did I know it costs at least 700,000dong for a tailor-made ones – where you can choose your own material, they will do it within 24hours & get it sent to your hotel. Please mind that most ready-made Ao Dai isn’t suitable for muslims because the slits are usually higher so like you have to wear innershirt & tak cantic for me. When we got there, I didn’t do my homework like how much it costs for the items I wanna buy so I guess we ended up paying a lil bit more for 2 pairs of kain pasang & 1 short pants. Leul.
Tip 1: Check how much it usually cost for items you want to buy.
|Rest at Ben Thanh over some drinks. Freaking hot & thirsty at this point.|
After going around the market for about an hour, we went to Saigon Center because we can’t stand the hotness in Ben Thanh. So many Koreans come here to shop and from some blogs we read, they said that many items here are rejected items from the factory so they’re basically original with some defects that if you can find properly, you might ended up with original items at a bargain. Kim fell in love with this one high-quality North Face backpack that he has to get it – 770,000dong (his birthday present from me). They tagged the price & even though I tried to bargain, the seller didn’t move an inch from the price tag. Considering the quality and that we can’t find such designs elsewhere, we went for it anyways. And yes, it’s such a rare design!
Tip 2: Saigon Square is so different with Ben Thanh, many shops display the price and you can’t really negotiate unless you buy more, then you might wanna try negotiating for 20-30% off.
Got what we want, we went to the hotel to check-in, wash up, pray and rest before heading out for the night market.
|Didn't use this bathtub because I forgot to bring my bathbomb T_T|
|More space for your stuff|
After that, we went to the Ho Chi Minh City Hall and pass by the Opera House. I actually wanted to watch a show at the Opera House but the tickets are quite expensive for us so.. nope. I should’ve gone to the water puppet show instead! Ughh… In front of the City Hall, there’s a statue of Ho Chi Minh, the figure behind this city historically. Kinda reminds me of Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul. Also, at night, it turns to be lepaking place.
|In front of Ho Chi Minh City Hall|
After been walking for a while, we got thirsty and of course you can’t skip Vietnam’s coffee when visiting the country where they’re proud of its own coffee. Came across Cong Caphe around that area so, coffee time! Cong Caphe is a famous chained coffee shops in Vietnam. We went to the same café when we’re in Hanoi but here, the café is bigger and nicer. I found 80% Korean customers inside though. It didn’t really give that local vibes but that’s okay ‘cause I’ve already listed some of the cafes I want to go to. Oh! If you wanna try the coffee here, make sure to try their coconut milk with coffee as that’s their signature and you can’t really find it elsewhere. It’s good. Thank me later.
Tip 3: Drink coffee every day if you don’t wanna miss out.
Before heading back to hotel, we stopped by at a travel agency to book a one-day tour for the next day. Just like any other time when we travel, Kim did a lot of researches (mainly from Korean blogs) while I do some readings on Malay & English blogs & Instagram hashtags to see places I wanna go and things-to-do. We decided to go for TheSinh Tourist Agency because most Koreans use that and chose the Cu Chi Tunnel & Mekong Delta tour all in a day. Paid 390,000dong per person.
We’re trying to go for the Muslim-friendly tours but unfortunately we couldn’t find a joined tour (2 of us will cost at least 1M dong per person) as we wish but there’s a private tour if you want from Bismillah Agency.
Tip 4: Survey packages before coming. We met another Malaysian couple who joined our tour but they paid twice of what we paid. I forgot from which agency they reserved the tour but it’s one of the agencies at the Malay Street.
Here’s the agency that we went with: The Sinh Tourist (formerly known as Sinh Café)
Oh right. If you want to backpack to Cu Chi tunnel, it actually cost so much cheaper. Please Google and plan how to go there though 'cause you gotta take 2 buses from the city if I'm not mistaken. Though I’d tell it’s so much fun for me to listen to the local guide’s explanation about the history behind the place. I got goose bumps.
Tip 5: Enjoy HCM by learning their history & culture! It’s one of the biggest wars in history and you’ll get to learn something beyond a shopping spree.
Day 2 (1st Feb 2018)
Today we headed out early in the morning to check-in for the tour. Grabbed some sandwiches and tea from Circle K. Glad we did this cause we had lunch quite late, I thought I almost die at Cu Chi Tunnel. T_T
Tip 6: Have breakfast before the tour. And bring some snacks if you must.
The tour was fine. I learnt a lot from the Cu Chi Tunnel tour. If you want to find out more, here’s how the itinerary looks like.
|You should tip here sometimes - we gave 10,000dong per person as a tip.|
Tip 7: Give tip to the tour guide and locals who are singing to entertain you even though they seemed not sincere doing the performance kkk
|Entrance fee 20,000dong/person isn't included in the package.|
Can't believe I tried this...
One thing though, we were sitting at the very back of the bus and we literally jumped off our seats few times along the journey. The road is crazy bumpy. LOL
Had 4P’s Pizza for dinner. Really love the ambience of this restaurant! The price range around VND180k to 300k which is still quite expensive but considering the place, definitely worth it.
|Shin Coffee menu.|
Dropped by at Shin Coffee where Kim had his coffee for 75,000dong. After lepaking for a while, we went back to our hotel.
Day 3 (2nd Feb 2018)
We decided to go free & easy city tour today because we were out the whole day yesterday. First, we went to have brunch at our hotel’s restaurant. The hotel we’re staying at has few branches and from what we read, they served good breakfast and quite a popular restaurant here in HCM. Then, we headed to Notre Dame, Saigon Central Post Office & War Museum.
Tip 8: Don’t forget to send postcards for yourself & families at the Saigon Central Post Office. It costs 5,000dong for the postcard and 10,500dong for stamped to Asia countries.
We also bought some souvenirs like fridge magnets, cute pouch & pin in one of the shops inside. It’s actually pretty cheap and prices are tagged so you don’t have to haggle unless you enjoy the process, go get yours in bulk at Ben Thanh Market.
After we sent the postcards, I bought the stationery I want next to the post office – I think it’s known as Bookstore street.
Last tourist stop – the War Museum. Entrance fee: 40,000dong per person.
Ok, first of all, I’m not a fan of museums. The only museum that I enjoyed so far is the Space Museum in Washington DC. In this museum, you could read a lot about the Vietnam War, side effects, see their prison etc etc. However, it’s not for someone with a faint of heart. I stopped reading and looking around at the second hall. Rasa sedih + takut looking at all the pictures. T^T Definitely not for me.
|The only part of the museum that I enjoyed.|
Last but not least, we went to check off one of the cafes I want to go - Flycupcake Garden Café. Love this pastel & French vibe cafe! The price is normal I guess.. but the interior is so pretty that I had to take countless shots in and out. XD
|Cute spec birthday card for birthday boy (card from Korea).|
Funny thing happened after that was, we found out it took 30 minutes to walk back from the café to our hotel. So, we requested an Uber but it didn’t come! *sigh*
So guess what? We did walk for more than 30 minutes back home. I thought my feet were going to give up. With the dress I’m wearing that day, I was a head turner. Definitely.. while walking down the streets, all the people on bikes were staring at me. Idk what they’re thinking but I gotta enjoy the spotlight. *catwalk*
Tip 8: Wear comfortable shoes
|I swear I really enjoyed it though my face doesn't seem so.|
Arrived at the hotel, rested for a bit and headed out again for dinner. Kim didn’t know that in the morning, I already asked the staffs at the restaurant to prepare a cake for surprise birthday celebration. Dinner was great and the surprise turned out really nice except for the cheap cake they had. I actually requested for the cake they have in the house but no, they got us some cheap cream cake that we barely had. Still, good memories since we don’t actually pay for the cake and the service was 100%.
After that, we headed out to Ben Thanh night market again and I had manicure session before going back to our hotel but I really don’t like it. Ughhh. The place is so dark and not that clean, plus the staff didn’t use like proper manicure tools or whatever. Never do it if you see sign by the road or when some promoters hand you the flyers (where I did it at one of the so-called spas at Malay street). Totally disappointing.
Tip 9: You should find some proper nail shop where it’s transparent from the outside.
Day 4 (3rd Feb 2018)
It’s shopping day!
1. Ben Thanh Market.
Got some fabrics here for my families and friends this Eid. Also bought a set of Nguyen Truet coffee and dripper – 170,000dong. Cashew nuts ½ kilo for 80,000dong.
2. Hello Weekend Market
If you’re looking for something unique and local-made items, definitely check this market out! I want to buy so many things here! Kim got one oversized t-shirt by a local designer for 200,000dong: Super 6. I got a cute leather purse for my sister, cute and flowery panties (25,000dong each), angpow envelope (just because). We also did caricature here for only 80,000dong and it turned out so cute I LOVE IT!
Tip 10: Definite check out the Hello Weekend Market
3. Lotte Mart
Tip 10: Next time you wanna shop for coffees, go to Lotte Mart.
We took a bus near the Hello Weekend Market and arrived safely. Important note – there’s no physical bus stop so you just gotta trust your Google Map and waved when you see the bus. Priceless experience! We spent so much on coffees (instant & drip) because Kim really loves Vietnam coffee. I also picked up some jackfruit snacks to share with my family. It’s so much cheaper in here. To go into the mart, you can’t bring any shopping bags and cameras so we just kept our phone & purse. Here’s some pictures I managed to take.
|Instant coffee - famous one|
|Spent around 800,000dong for these|
Coffee time at Goc Hanoi, best egg coffee and egg cheese toast EVER! I never knew egg & cheese toast could be THAT GOOD. Seriously. Even though it took a while for our ordered foods to arrive, but they’re worth the wait! Plus, the location is so local (located at the end of a small alley) and interior is so vintage. Definitely a must for a coffee/café lover.
4. Ben Thanh night market
5. Saigon Center
For last minute shopping, we went to (again) these two places and got some souvenirs for ourselves and my families. Read that more on HCM haul blogpost later ok!
Packing time! Kim ngelat pergi beli foods at the Weekend Market while I did all the packing. Cheh. Nasib baik all the foods sedap gila kalau tak….
Day 5 (4th Feb 2018)
Morning flight. The van that we booked from the hotel (230,000dong) picked us up at 5.30am. But since it’s Sunday, the street at our hotel was still bright from the bars LOL.
That’s all for our Ho Chi Minh trip! I hope this post will be helpful to those who are traveling to the city of motorbikes! Thanks for reading! Till next post…